PhD on the Legal Aspects of Indigenous Subsistence Harvesting in the Arctic (1.0 FTE)

Updated: 16 days ago
Deadline: 09 May 2024

PhD on the Legal Aspects of Indigenous Subsistence Harvesting in the Arctic (1.0 FTE) (V24.0202)
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Job description

We are seeking self-motivated applicants for a four-year, fully-funded PhD position focusing on the Western and traditional legal systems regulating the subsistence harvesting of Northern animals (e.g., seals, walruses, whales, caribou, fish, birds and others) by Arctic Indigenous peoples, with a focus on Inuit of Nunavut, Inuit Nunangat (the traditional Inuit territories of what is now Canada). For many Inuit, hunting is not only a cornerstone of their cultural identity, but a vital stopgap to household food insecurity. Prior to the implementation of hunting regulations by non-Inuit policymakers and regulators – almost all of which are informed by Western-scientific determinations of species abundance and/or environmental health – most Arctic Indigenous hunters maintained food sovereignty and sustainability through dynamic customary systems based on whole-ecosystem perspectives and myriad cosmological considerations relating to human/nonhuman-animal relationships. Today, many hunters adhere to both systems – non-Indigenous and traditional – while increasingly facing practical challenges of hunting in regions disproportionately affected by climate change.

With the goal of better understanding often-divergent legal/regulatory structures of conservation affecting Arctic Indigenous peoples, the successful candidate will be expected to

• compile, synthesize and analyze both Indigenous and non-Indigenous animal-ĥarvesting regulations – both codified and customary – across the circumpolar Arctic
• identify traditional rules and practices to prevent overharvesting, the extent to which these rules and practices have been challenged by commercialisation, and the extent to which these rules and practices have been acknowledged or integrated into Western regulations.

This will require the researcher to design and carry out semi-structured, open-ended interviews with Inuit subsistence hunters, other traditional knowledge-holders, conservation biologists, and regulators in Nunavut, elsewhere in Canada, and in Europe.

This work will comprise “Maligaq (ᒪᓕᒐᖅ)” (North Baffin Inuktitut for ‘A law/rule to be followed’), a sub-project of TRACES (Tracking Resilience in Arctic Sociocultural-Ecological Systems), a multidisciplinary research project, funded by the European Research Council, documenting and contextualizing long-term human-animal/human-environment relationships across the ecologically-rich Foxe Basin of central Nunavut.

The researcher will be based at the Arctic Centre (est. 1970), part of the Groningen Institute of Archaeology (GIA), and will be supervised by TRACES principal investigator Dr. Sean Desjardins, an anthropological archaeologist, and Prof. Kees Bastmeijer, a renowned expert in Polar Law and Director of the Arctic Centre. The candidate will work alongside other TRACES researchers, as well as with graduate students and postgraduate researchers studying a wide array of topics at the GIA.

Since its foundation in 1614, the University of Groningen has established an international reputation as a dynamic and innovative university offering high-quality teaching and research. Its 34.000 students are encouraged to develop their own individual talents through challenging study- and career paths. The University of Groningen is an international centre of knowledge: It belongs to the best research universities in Europe and is allied with prestigious partner universities and networks worldwide.

The Faculty of Arts is a large, dynamic faculty in the heart of the city of Groningen. It has more than 5.000 students and 700 staff members, who are working at the frontiers of knowledge every day. The Faculty offers a wide range of degree programmes: 15 Bachelor's programmes and over 35 Master's specializations. Our research, which is internationally widely acclaimed, covers Archaeology, Cultural Studies, History, International Relations, Language and Literary Studies, Art History, Linguistics, and Media and Journalism Studies.


To be competitive for the position, prospective candidates must have

• a Master’s degree (MA, MSc or LLM) in a relevant legal, humanities or social science discipline (e.g., Indigenous Legal Systems, Environmental/Nature-Conservation Law, Anthropology or Cultural Geography
• the ability to independently research, analyze and/or summarize relevant laws, statutes, guidelines and regulations relevant to the project
• willingness to occasionally travel (especially in Canada) during the PhD project period
• a willingness to share knowledge and data within the TRACES project to ensure interconnections between the projects; and
• an excellent command of written and spoken English.
• the willingness to move and reside in The Netherlands.

The following would be assets for prospective candidates

• a demonstrated interest in traditional Arctic Indigenous governance and customary legal systems
• experience carrying out qualitative research, or a willingness to learn; and
• reading knowledge of French (Canada’s co-official language).

Knowledge of Dutch is not required. We especially encourage applications from scholars identifying as Indigenous, persons of color, persons with disabilities, women and LGBTQ2SIA+ persons.

Conditions of employment

In accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, we offer

• a salary of € 2,770 gross per month in the first year, up to a maximum of € 3,539 gross per month in the final year, based on a full-time position
• a holiday allowance of 8% gross annual income
• an 8.3% end-of-the-year allowance
• a temporary 1.0 FTE appointment for a specified period of four years. The candidate will first be appointed for twelve months. After six months, an assessment will take place of the candidate’s results and the progress of the PhD project, in order to decide whether employment will be continued. The PhD candidate is expected to conduct a total of 0.4 FTE teaching spread over the second, third and fourth year of their appointment
• excellent work-life balance

For more detailed information about working conditions and working for the University of Groningen, please check:

The appointment will ideally commence on 1 July, 2024. We allow 3 months from selection in case of VISA applications.


Your application packet (see submission instructions below) should include

• a cover (motivation) letter—not exceeding two single-spaced pages—clearly indicating your interest in the position and highlighting reasons you believe you are a well-qualified candidate
• a brief, up-to-date curriculum vitae that focuses on aspects that are directly relevant to the position
• copies of academic transcripts, showing grades/marks for the Master’s program
• a writing sample in the form of an academic research essay not to exceed 20 pages; and
• names and contact information of two academic references (Please do not submit letters of reference. If necessary, we will contact the referees ourselves).

You may apply for this position until 8 May 11:59pm / before 9 May 2024 Dutch local time (CEST) by means of the application form (click on "Apply" below on the advertisement on the university website).

The University of Groningen strives to be a university in which students and staff are respected and feel at home, regardless of differences in background, experiences, perspectives, and identities. We believe that working on our core values of inclusion and equality are a joint responsibility and we are constructively working on creating a socially safe environment. Diversity among students and staff members enriches academic debate and contributes to the quality of our teaching and research. We therefore invite applicants from underrepresented groups in particular to apply. For more information, see also our diversity policy webpage:

Our selection procedure follows the guidelines of the Recruitment code (NVP): and European Commission's European Code of Conduct for recruitment of researchers:

We provide career services for partners of new faculty members moving to Groningen.

Unsolicited marketing is not appreciated.


For information you can contact:

  • Dr Sean Desjardins (for information about the research project), [email protected]
  • Flip Kramer (for practical information concerning the application process), [email protected]

Please do not use the e-mail address(es) above for applications.


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